NAPLES, FL — Students at Big Cypress Elementary School in Naples have collected hundreds of used and outdated wireless phones to help domestic violence awareness and prevention efforts right here in Southwest Florida. Collection bins were located in each classroom for students and staff to donate used cell phones to the Verizon Wireless HopeLineSMprogram.
The company's HopeLine program takes used cell phones, refurbishes them if possible then sells them, with the proceeds directed to local domestic violence organizations such as the Shelter for Abused Women and Children in Naples. Phones that cannot be refurbished are recycled in an environmentally responsible manner.
Each classroom collected old phones for three weeks. Verizon Wireless plans to reward the Big Cypress Elementary School student government organization with a pizza party for helping to coordinate the initiative.
"We know that domestic violence is not often an issue brought into an elementary school," said Big Cypress Elementary principal, Susan Thompson. "However, we feel it's important for children to know about this issue and community service. Some of these lessons are not attractive, but they're real."
Verizon Wireless, the nation's leading wireless provider, has long made domestic violence prevention its main philanthropic cause. Over the past six years, the company has collected more than two million phones through HopeLine to assist shelters and victims nationwide.
"This is an easy way for community-minded citizens and businesses and these students to help others in need right here in Naples," said Mike Lanman, Verizon Wireless Florida region president. "Phones that are recycled can do so much good for so many people, versus those that are just thrown away or forgotten in a drawer."
Local organizations either receive cash donations or working cell phones for survivors to use while rebuilding their lives. These wireless phones become a lifeline to victims as they can report threats or abuse, and as they seek independence and establish a new life.
In 2003, Verizon Wireless provided more than $100,000 in cash and services to local agencies such as Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence, The Spring of Tampa Bay, Women In Distress of Broward County, SafeSpace of Miami, The Women's Fund, Hubbard House in Jacksonville and others. Phone recycling drives with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Publix Supermarkets and the Miami Dolphins helped generate HopeLine funds while keeping thousands of old phones out of Florida landfills.
More than 120,000 cases of domestic violence are reported in Florida each year, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Even worse, the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence estimates that most incidents are never reported at all.
"Domestic violence knows no boundaries everyone is affected," says Christine Thrower, president/CEO of Women In Distress. "Domestic violence makes our communities less safe, our businesses less profitable and puts millions of families and children at risk each year."
To donate a phone to the HopeLine program, visit any one of 68 Verizon Wireless locations in the state. For a list of Verizon Wireless retail locations in Florida, visit www.verizonwireless.com.
About Verizon Wireless
Verizon Wireless is the nation's leading provider of wireless communications. The company has the largest nationwide wireless voice and data network and 37.5 million customers. Headquartered in Bedminster, NJ, Verizon Wireless is a joint venture of Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ) and Vodafone (NYSE and LSE: VOD). Find more information on the Web at www.verizonwireless.com. To receive broadcast-quality video footage of Verizon Wireless operations, log onto www.thenewsmarket.com/verizonwireless.
Verizon Wireless encourages customers who are upgrading their wireless phone to participate in its exclusive HopeLine phone recycling program. The national HopeLine program distributes previously owned wireless phones to victims of domestic violence, supports non-profit domestic violence advocacy groups and provides an environmentally safe method of recycling phones. Donations are accepted at all 1,200-plus Verizon Wireless Communications Stores across the country. For additional information, customers can also visit www.verizonwireless.com/hopeline.